American Schoolwear: Age Trends

Figure 1.--The boys in this First Grade class (6-year olds) wear short pants and knicker suits mistly with long stockings. They are dressed like city boys, but the school in the backgrund looks more like a rural school. The portrait is indated, but looks like the 1920s to us.

American boys wore a variety of outfits to school which were affected by their age which more or less transltes to grade level. As most schools did not have uniforms, this was essentially the same as the children's ordinary clothes. This varied simewhat as children in the cities tended to dress up for school until after the 1920s-30s. Dress tended to be somewaht different in elementary (primary) and secondary schools. And there were substantial changes over time concerning dress conventions. Schools tended to allow the parents determine how to dress the children, although social conventions were imporant in the 19th and early-20 century. Although uniforms were not common, many schools in the 20th century adopted dress codes. We begin to see the younger children dressing informally while boys in high schools continued to wear suits (1930). Gradually clothing became more casual in high schools as well (1950s). Boys mostly wore long pants to school in the 19th century. This began to change in the late-19th century as knee pants became more common. At the turn-of-the 20th century we even see boys in highschools wearing knee pants. Knickers became standard (1910s). Gradually teenagers even younger teens wearing ling pants. Knickers were still common in elmentary schools through the 1930s. Younger boys might wear short pants. Long pants became standard throughout the schools (1950s). We begin to see boys in elmentary (primary) schools beginning to wear short pants again (1970s). This varied regionally. We see more uniforms at the same time, in both parochial and inner-city elementary schools. Long baggy shorts appear in high school (1990s). Following school trends is helpful in identifying fashion trends as we have class portraits, manning a close age group, showing a range of fashion which can often be dated.


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Created: 6:45 AM 12/25/2013
Last updated: 6:45 AM 12/25/2013